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Obama Signs Law 'Modernizing' Federal References to Minorities

  • Ken Schwartz

FILE - President Barack Obama speak at the White House in Washington, May 13, 2016.

FILE - President Barack Obama speak at the White House in Washington, May 13, 2016.

President Barack Obama has signed a bill outlawing the federal government from using what many say are offensive and outdated terms used to describe minority groups.

The House and Senate passed the bill last week with no opposition.

The White House says the new law "modernizes" the way the federal government refers to some minorities.

Federal laws can no longer refer to African-Americans as "Negroes," Asian-Americans as "Orientals," and Native Americans as "Indians."

New York Democrat Grace Meng was chief sponsor of the bill in the House after discovering the word “Oriental” while researching government documents.

"Many Americans may not be aware that the word 'Oriental' is derogatory. But it is an insulting term that needed to be removed from the books," Meng said. "I am extremely pleased that my legislation to do that is now the law of the land."

Other new terms to be used in federal paperwork include Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, Hispanic, Puerto Rican, and Alaska Native in place of "Eskimo" and "Aleut."

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